The opportunity to live abroad and gain valuable language abilities and intercultural skills may only come during your student’s university years. This may very well be the most important personal and/or academic decision your student ever makes. Among the most cited benefits of studying abroad are: increased self-confidence, increased maturity, enhanced interest in academic study, improved problem-solving skills, reinforced commitment to foreign language study, enhanced understanding of one’s own cultural values and biases, new career direction, and improved employability.
Does studying abroad prevent students from graduating on time? Will the credits earned overseas count towards my student’s UT degree?
Study abroad will not necessarily keep students from graduating in four years. For UT students on approved study abroad programs, credits earned can be applied to their UT degree—provided that all the required documents and authorizations are completed on time and according to due process. Student should meet with their academic advisors to determine what types of courses are transferable and when would be the best time in the student’s college career to study abroad.
Students should work with their academic advisors to determine which semester/year/summer term is best for them. We encourage students to begin planning their study abroad experience as early as freshman year, and at least one year in advance, to ensure that the courses available to them fit their degree plan. UT students must have completed at least one semester (transfer students) or one full academic year (new, first-year students) to be eligible for study abroad programs.
Students may study abroad for as short a time as a mini-term (approximately 3 weeks) or as long as a semester or academic year. Many students even study abroad more than once during their academic career.
Admission requirements vary for each program. Some may have language prerequisites or course subject requirements, and most have GPA requirements. UT’s basic eligibility requirements for participation in a study abroad program are that students may not be on academic or judicial probation during the term in which they plan to study abroad.
The steps UT students must take are outlined in the Start here: Advising section of this website. Students are advised to attend a general information session (held weekdays during the academic year at 2 p.m. in the Programs Abroad Office) to learn more about study abroad basics.
Program costs vary greatly. For example, students studying in Paris or London can expect to pay much more than those studying in a small town in Latin America. More information can be found in the Financial Aid & Scholarships section of this website.
UT students who are studying abroad through approved study abroad programs are eligible to use their UT scholarships and financial aid, and most scholarships and financial aid may be used for semester or academic year programs. Often, scholarships and other financial aid do not apply to programs less than a semester in length, but some scholarships, including the HOPE Scholarship, can be used if the student is taking 6 credit hours or more. For more information about using existing financial aid and finding study abroad scholarships, see Using Current Scholarships and Funding Opportunities and/or consult with One Stop Student Services.
All study abroad programs, regardless of duration, require a passport; and students should apply for passports as soon as they begin to consider studying abroad. Visit the State Department website for details about the passport process and associated costs. Many businesses with photo-processing centers, such as Walgreens, can take passport photos; members of AAA should also enquire about passport photo benefits associated with certain membership levels.
Depending on the country and length of stay, a visa may be required. Students will receive information on whether or not they need a visa during advising sessions. Students can also consult the foreign embassy of the country or countries to which they are traveling for more information about visa requirements and application procedures.
Housing varies from program to program. The most common types of housing include home stays (living with local families), student residence halls/dormitories, or apartments/flats shared with fellow students. Some of the short-term, faculty-led programs house students in hotels for part or all of the program.
Many parents worry about the safety of their study abroad students. Just as no one can always guarantee a student’s safety at the home campus, the same is true while abroad. However, many students report that they actually feel safer during their stay abroad than here in the United States.
Common sense is perhaps the most powerful weapon against safety threats while abroad. Being alert and aware of one’s surroundings is as essential. The Programs Abroad Office discusses study abroad-specific health and safety matters with students at their mandatory pre-departure orientation and also offers a number of Health & Safety resources to help students prepare before they leave.
In addition, UT does not approve student participation in programs located in countries where the US Department of State has issued a travel warning; and the Programs Abroad Office staff monitor the updates on health and safety issues around the world. Students also have access to our 24-hour emergency telephone.
For more information on student health and safety abroad, the following external resources are recommended:
Although some other countries do use 911 as the emergency number, most do not. Students should review the specific emergency information for their host country as well as familiarize themselves with the location and contact information of the nearest US embassy. Information can be found on the US State Department international travel website.
Many health insurance providers include some degree of coverage outside of the US. Students should check with their current providers to ascertain the degree of coverage and determine if additional coverage is necessary. Many study abroad programs provide or require health insurance, so students should also familiarize themselves with what their program includes. In addition, students on all exchange, direct enroll, and internship programs are required to purchase insurance through the university. Students on affiliate programs and faculty-directed programs (where insurance is not a part of the program) will also be required to purchase insurance. See the Health Insurance page for more information.
The frequency with which you contact your student will depend entirely on you and your student’s preferences. Prior to departure, you may wish to establish plans for communication on your student’s arrival day as well as a regular communication schedule throughout the time abroad. An important aspect of the study abroad process is for students to find the balance between staying in touch with their loved ones at home and fully investing in their experience abroad. For more tips, visit our Communication page.